A Montesano sawmill burned to the ground on Saturday night, but the manager of Mary's River Lumber says they will rebuild.

Firefighters responded at about 9 p.m. Saturday and worked well into the morning.

Witnesses say flames shot more than 100 feet into the air.

I've been in this industry for 37 years. I've never seen anything like this last night, said mill manager Terry Smith. It's an absolutely sickening feeling.

Of those 37 years, Smith has spent all but 10 at the Montesano mill. He worked his way from the entry level to mill manager.

He says it's more than a building that gone - it's a lifeline.

Machinery's machinery, but there's a lot of guys who rely on this for their jobs, he said.

Roughly half of the 105 employees work in the sawmill. Just two security guards were there when the fire started.

I don't even want to speculate on what happened because I don't know, said Smith.

Fire investigators aren't sure either.

Even though the sawmill was destroyed, almost every other building here was saved. That's why mill managers say there's a good chance they will rebuild.

If there's a way to pull out of this, we're going to do it. We're going to find a way. We're not dead, said Smith.

Smith says the company will try to pay the workers until the sawmill gets back online.

Read or Share this story: